Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

First Winter Camp- Birch Island- Snowbank
by CosmicCharlie

Trip Type: Snowshoeing
Entry Date: 01/15/2016
Entry & Exit Point: Snowbank Lake (EP 27)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 1
Day 2 of 4
Saturday, January 16, 2016

We woke after just a couple hours of sleep and began gathering wood for the stove.

There were many people on snowmobiles and 4-wheelers close by with portable fish houses. This didn't really bother me as I was just happy to be out. After getting a fire going we set out some tip-ups.

The temperature felt like it was dropping on us and my two friends made the decision to leave late in the morning. They had barely gotten there! I think they underestimated the weather. They were cold early Saturday morning, and it was going to be much, much colder the next few nights, so they left.

I was sure I wanted to stay and wished them farewell. Armed with 2 sleeping pads, 2 -20F bags, wool pants, many layers and my new mukluks I was sure I'd stay warm, sleeping cold at night.

I moved one of my two tip-ups one time on saturday. I broke the ice out of each hole a few times, and changed depth on them a few times. Other than that I really did not have much effort in fishing. I had to pull my tip-ups out to go on wood runs, because I would not be close enough to tend to them.

In fact, I quickly found out that all of my responsibilities and focuses in life had quickly devolved into just a couple key, but simple tasks. Search for wood, gather wood, haul wood, saw wood and split wood. I was also busy boiling water as well (though I did just drink some straight from the lake as well).

Thanks to the extreme cold of the weekend, paired with solo winter camping, I discovered that this would not be the leisurely fishing trip I had envisioned. It certainly felt great to work outside on my shelter, while watching for those flags to fly! I did not have a flag all day, however, a group not too far from me caught a nice lake trout off of a tip-up. That was that group of four's only fish of the day, and a group of two near me as well, got skunked.

As the sun began to set the fishermen returned to their warm accommodations on shore while I settled in to my canvas tent and zipped it up for the first time while stoking the fire. How satisfying to be so warm in such cold conditions!